Bouldering FAQs

A lot of people are curious about the new enthusiasm for bouldering, a form of rock climbing that uses no ropes or hooks, relying exclusively on grip, balance, coordination and proper shifting of body weight. Bouldering is fast becoming a popular pastime at indoor climbing facilities, such as the Rock Climbing Room we have installed at Morphe.  Here are some of the most common questions that people are asking about bouldering and how to get started with this form of training:

  1. What are the benefits of bouldering?  This amazing sport works basically every muscle group in the body, relying on gravity and your body weight as a strength builder. Additionally, it builds mental skills by exercising thought patterns that are applicable to all areas of your life: overcoming fear and panic, learning to balance the weight of your body, creating a strategy for your next move…  It helps with everything!
  2. Will it help me to lose weight and get in shape?  Bouldering is a strength-building exercise that burns calories and builds lean muscle all over the body, so it will make you look leaner in a very short time if practiced regularly.  It also stretches the muscles in your limbs and back, building better posture that also improves your overall appearance, giving you a taller, leaner look.
  3. Do I need to have climbing experience to take up bouldering?  Not at all.  The vast majority of my clients at Morphe have never tried rock climbing before, and many of them have become real enthusiasts for this sport.
  4. Will I require any special equipment or footwear to practice bouldering?  Not initially.  You can wear the clothes that you would wear to a regular workout.  If you do become passionate about the sport and plan to continue and master it, I would recommend purchasing a good pair of climbing shoes; however, you can wear your regular gym shoes to get started or rent climbing shoes from Morphe.
  5. What happens if I fall?  The floor is padded with mattresses, and the height of the walls is limited, so you will not be seriously injured if you fall.  The key is to stay focused and you will easily be able to climb your way down from a hold instead of falling.
  6. Is it safe for kids to try?  Totally.  Morphe offers classes for kids aged 6-10.  Special groups can be accommodated by appointment.
  7.  Where can I go to try it?  We have a dedicated bouldering room Morphe where you can come in and try it out. Give us a call at 305.302.4523.

Up the Wall: How Bouldering Can Change Your Life

Tried everything at the gym?  Need something new and exciting? How about anti-gravity traverse training in the form of rock climbing or bouldering?  Morphe is thrilled to announce the completion of our indoor climbing gym, where you can come in and experience bouldering fist-hand.

Bouldering is a style of rock climbing that emphasizes power, strength, and total body awareness. It generally focuses on climbing short distances using short sequences of moves, differing from traditional rock climbing in this limitation of distance and movement, as well as the fact that in bouldering, no ropes are used.

Bouldering is widely gaining popularity and indoor climbing gyms are slowly starting to crop up in select locations. Children are also seeing benefits from participating in the sport, and studies have shown that young climbers develop core strength and balance from climbing at a young age, resulting in improved performance in other areas and an enthusiasm for fitness that continues into adult life. At Morphe, we’ve created an indoor bouldering gym with marked routes for climbers of all levels, and we offer classes for adults as well as children aged 6 to 10.

Climbing exercises consist of following climbing routes that are actually referred to as problems.  And in fact, this exercise really does build problem-solving skills.  Repeated frequently, climbing strengthens your ability to come up with movement strategies that also build balance, strength, courage, self-esteem, and a sense of continued accomplishment.

This exercise also enhances perception, mental accuracy, and memory, and helps overcome fears and phobias such as fear of heights or fear of falling.  The practice also emphasizes the body’s relationship to gravity and the use of one’s own body weight as resistance, both of which are central to the Morphe philosophy.  Best of all, it’s FUN! So come on in and play around a little bit. You’ll feel renewed, inspired and reconnected with your own inner strength, power and intelligence.

Play better, Enjoy more: Improve Your Game with Flex Training

As both an avid golf enthusiast and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist working with all sorts of athletes for over 15 years, I can attest to the contribution that flex training can add to your golf game.  In fact, I’d like to share a story with you of one golfer who lowered his handicap from 20 to 10 in less than a years’ time by working to improve his overall balance, strength, and flexibility.

In my work with professional athletes, both targeted at improving general fitness and/or working to rehabilitate injuries, I have learned the benefits that all-around flexibility, balance and strength training can bring to an athlete’s performance. So when Victor came into my studio with the specific goal of lowering his golf handicap, I was prepared to coach him to a whole new level as a golfer.

Initially, we incorporated Ultrasound Therapy and P.N.F. (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) Stretching, a series of specialized stretching techniques commonly used by clinical therapists, to rapidly improve his overall range of motion and bring fast relief from chronic tendonitis, a problem he’d suffered with for years.

We then began working on bio-mechanic strengthening and core conditioning through Gravity Training and Kinesiology, which relieved his chronic lower back pain, a problem he attributed to his long hours of sitting at a desk during his day job.  This system also improves balance and overall flexibility while building strength in the entire body, improving rotation and general mobility, maintaining proper weight, increasing muscle tone and definition, and lengthening the spine, improving overall posture.

To that, we added Swing Fan Drills, Medicine Ball and Plyometric Workouts, a series of specialized exercises targeted specifically to improving his rotation, swing and golf performance, lowering his handicap from 20 to 10 over a period of 11 months.  We also worked to develop a series of appropriate pre and post training exercises to not only improve Victor’s overall performance on the green, but also to decrease his risk of injury and maintain his flexibility, even through his long days at the office.

Today, this enthusiastic golfer has found a renewed interest in his favorite sport. His health is greatly improved, as is his game, and he is able to enjoy playing more often, free of pain. A testament to the holistic principle of overall physical conditioning, his is just one more example of what a focused and balanced training regimen can do to benefit any athlete, from beginner, to pro, to weekend warrior.

Crazy for Kombucha

Hey, have you tried Kombucha yet?

It’s an exotic, ancient effervescent drink that some call “mushroom tea” although there are no mushrooms in it.  Actually, Kombucha is a sparkling tea drink made from tea, sugar, bacteria and yeast.  This mix is then fermented to create a bacterial colony or “mother” and this colony—a slimy, sludgy looking thing—is then brewed with sugar and tea, allowing the mix to ferment. The resulting bubbly beverage tastes a bit vinegary, and contains B vitamins and other nutritional compounds.

Many claim that Kombucha tea promotes an array of amazing health benefits such as strengthening and boosting the immune system, preventing the formation of cancerous tumors, lowering harmful cholesterol, relieving PMS, enhancing overall digestion and liver function, and even promoting hair growth.  In fact, Kombucha’s recent ascent to the heights of health-nut popularity is part of a larger trend in foods that contain live bacteria or probiotics, which are known to benefit digestion and naturally boost the immune system.   Probiotics are those living organisms that feed off the “bad bacteria” in our bodies.  So, yes, this is basically good stuff.

But, as with everything good, some points need to be acknowledged and taken into consideration.  For example, even though Kombucha and/or some variation of fermented tea has been prized as a health tonic in China for over 2,000 years, fermented tea is actually a very acidic drink and should be taken strictly in moderation.  Many well-respected health experts have published warnings regarding the excessive use of Kombucha and the possibility of resulting complications such as hyperacidity and the typical side effects seen during detox or “healing crisis” such as skin rashes, headaches and loose stools.  And honestly, none of us should take lightly the fact that no real scientific studies have been done to establish that Kombucha does indeed live up to all of its health claims, even though it has been respected as a natural remedy for centuries.  So, the best advice is to enjoy the drink in moderation and judge for yourself whether or not it is working for you.  At most, enjoy 4 oz. of Kombucha daily, and increase your intake gradually as your body adjusts to the live probiotics.

Here at Morphe, we do occasionally brew a bit of the sparkling refreshment.  Many of my clients claim that it really does give them increased energy, and more than one has mentioned that the tea has helped tremendously with their digestion.

Today, the hippest of foodies and health enthusiasts are cultivating their own “mothers,” and selling or giving away the “daughters” or “kombucha babies” as starter kits for enthusiastic wannabe Kombucha brewers.  And many of these new starter kits have also added additional healthful ingredients such as Spirulina and Vitamin C.  So if you’re looking to start brewing your own Kombucha, you should have no trouble getting a hold of a good “mother” to help you get started.   Just remember that moderation is key with this wonder drink.

Walk Your Way to Health

Probably the most essential aerobic exercise for the overall well being of the human body is walking.  Unfortunately, this is the one activity that most people don’t practice enough.  Walking lowers (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol and increases (HDL or “good”) cholesterol.  It helps manage blood pressure and diabetes, and reduces your risk for either condition. Brisk walking also releases endorphins, which keep you emotionally balanced and feeling optimistic.  Walking trims the waistline by subtly strengthening the core, while also strengthening the muscles and bones in the entire body.  Walking is also the form of exercise least likely to lead to injury, particularly if you walk on a footpath that is relatively clear.  For maximum spiritual, emotional and physical benefits, take a walk outdoors, surrounded by nature.

The most important thing to keep in mind when starting a walking regimen is to wear the right shoes. Look for solid arch support, a firm heel, and soles that are both thick and flexible enough to cushion your feet, absorb shock and allow for proper mobility. If you’re really serious about walking at least a mile daily, you will definitely need a pair of good quality running shoes.  Get them at a high-end athletic store and make sure you get fitted professionally.

Be sure to stretch gently before and after a long walk, particularly the hamstrings and the muscles of the ankles and feet. A few ankle rotations after a long walk will help relieve the tension built up around the ankle joint.

Using a pedometer can help you keep track of the number of steps you are taking, the distance that you have walked, and even the amount of calories and fat that your are burning while walking.  This useful tool can help motivate you to meet the goals that you set for your regimen.

The best time to take a walk is in the morning or early evening, after your morning and/or evening meal.  The regular practice of a nightly one-hour walk right after dinner, as practiced in many European countries, is an excellent aid to digestion, weight-loss and improved sleep.

8 Diet Busters to Avoid

Tips to Stop Sabotaging Your Weight-Loss Goals

Sometimes we just don’t understand why our weight-loss attempts are not working.  A lot of calories are hidden in daily habits that we don’t often pay attention to.  Here are some tips for avoiding the most common hidden hindrances to our best-laid diet plans.

  1. Liquid Calories: Watch out for empty calories in soft drinks, flavored water, and juices.  Your beverage of choice for quenching thirst should simply be plain water – and lots of it.
  2. Dinner rolls: Do you ever ask yourself: “How could I be gaining weight when all I’m eating is fish and salad?”  Bear in mind that those three rolls you ate with your fish and salad packed a fluffy 250-500 calories each, depending on what kind of roll it was and how much butter you used.
  3. Breakfast Cereal:  Our bodies don’t really need all those unnecessary and mostly nutritionally empty carb calories, especially at breakfast when the body’s insulin levels are being established for each day.  Try a protein breakfast of nuts, yoghurt, or eggs instead.
  4. Chips:  An 8 oz. bag of potato chips has about 1240 calories (an entire days’ worth) with virtually no nutritional value. No further comment.
  5. Granola Bars:  The average granola bar has about 120 calories (45 of those from fat), 8% Saturated Fat, and about 17 grams of sugar. Snack on an apple or a handful of fresh berries instead and skip the added sugar and fat.
  6. High Fructose Corn Syrup:  This hidden ingredient turns up in almost 95% of all processed supermarket foods and is believed by many nutrition experts to be a leading contributor to the growing problem of obesity in the U.S.
  7. Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils:  These processed fats accumulate in your body causing sluggishness, weight gain, and many experts have linked them to arteriosclerosis and hardening of the arteries.  They are found in processed breads, baked goods, chips, fast foods and breakfast cereals.
  8. Supersize Portions:  By some accounts, most food items should be eaten in portions about the size of what you can reasonably hold in the scooped palm of one hand.  If your portion of anything (except maybe salad greens) is bigger than that, you are probably eating too much.  Small frequent meals are better than isolated large ones.

5 Moves to Melt Belly-Fat Outside the Gym

If you’re noticing a little “extra love” around your midsection, here are some suggestions to get your core toned and tight.

  1. Walk:   Walking is the easiest way to burn fat around the midsection.  Purchase a good pair of walking shoes with excellent arch support and walk on different types of terrain such as asphalt, grass, sand and dirt.  Make sure you walk at least one hour each day for maximum results.  Try walking instead of driving when running errands.
  2. Jog or Run:  Jogging or running provides faster results than walking, but is harder for some people to commit to, and harder on the connective tissue and joints.  Even if you jog or run around the block once a day, you will see results within one week.  Again, choose the proper footwear to support your arches and protect your ankles, knees and hips from strains and injury.
  3. Bicycle:  Cycling tones the lower body while improving overall circulation.  Even if you only do it once a week, pedal for a period of at least one hour for best results.  Make sure your bike is the right height for you, and wear protective gear if riding in traffic.
  4. Crunches:  Everybody knows that in order to achieve a flat, tight belly, you must do crunches; and it seems that this is almost everyone’s least favorite exercise.  The best way to attack those crunches is to just DO them (make sure you’ve stretched and warmed up first).  Start with 2 sets of 15 reps the first week, then gradually increase the reps until you’re up to 100 per set. Results are instantly visible after 3 or 4 sets.
  5. Swimming:  An excellent total body workout, swimming not only tightens and tones the core, but works on the extremities and lateral muscles which are hard to target via other exercises. One or two hours a week is sufficient to produce dramatic results visible within the first month.

Build a Lean Machine

A truly lean body consists of firm, sculpted muscles, a tight core, strong limbs, and zero storage fat.  To get this type of body—and maintain it—apply the age-old combination of Diet and Exercise, with a little bit of Supplementation thrown in. In spite of all the hype out there, this is still the only way to achieve results!

Diet

Just as every body is different, so is every metabolism, and hence everyone’s optimal diet. Nonetheless, the goal of your dietary focus should be to build lean muscle mass while eliminating fat deposits.  The best way to achieve this is by eating lean proteins and complex carbohydrates, while eliminating saturated and hydrogenated fats and simple carbohydrates such as refined sugar, white flour and processed foods. Lean protein effectively builds muscle mass while complex carbohydrates provide energy. Healthy fats such as those derived from olive oil, coconut, tree nuts, and avocado nourish healthy hair, nails, and skin, while lubricating the organs and stabilizing hormone levels to burn fat.

Supplements

Supplementation should be specific to each individual body and supervised by a health professional after careful evaluation of your needs.  Supplements should also be rotated so the body does not grow dependent on them.  In many cases, proper supplementation may assist in losing weight and building muscle by supplying more nutrients to the body, making for quicker results. Amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and fish oils provide anti-oxidant protection to protect against disease and aging, and also provide strength and fuel for your workout.

Exercise

Your ideal exercise regimen should combine daily aerobics with one hour of strength training at least twice a week for best results. Once you experience how this will transform both your energy and your appearance, your own body will motivate you to continue!

6 Reasons to Love Circuit Training

Circuit training is a form of total body toning and conditioning that consists of a series of sequential short bursts of resistance training exercises where each set of repetitions targets a difference muscle group in the body.  A “circuit” refers to the set of exercises included in the training session. Typically, the switch between exercises (or “stations”) happens quickly to enhance the cardiovascular benefits of the rotation.  By quickly switching from working one group of muscles to another, the body does not require a rest in metabolic rate between exercises; this continuity helps to accelerate and maintain increased heart rate, oxygen consumption and caloric burning.  Resistance training exercises are often combined with aerobics to further increase these benefits.  Many of my clients at Morphe notice that circuit training accelerates their metabolism, gets them to perspire more profusely, and promotes rapid weight loss and body sculpting.

Why We Love Circuits

  1. Circuit training targets different muscle groups individually, providing a focused conditioning and toning workout that sculpts and defines the entire body.
  2. Circuit training increases heart rate, oxygen consumption and combines the benefits of resistance training with the increased caloric burning power of aerobics!
  3. Circuits can consist of any variety of exercises, and may be adapted to any environment, such as an outdoor obstacle course where you do reps at each station.
  4. Circuit training is lively, challenging and FUN! It gets your adrenalin and endorphins flowing and helps your body detox through increased perspiration.
  5. Circuit training accelerates weight loss and body sculpting by increasing metabolic rate and stimulating caloric burning.
    And most importantly: Results! Circuit training delivers fast and dramatic results that mean you’ll look better this evening than you did when you got up this morning!

Maintaining Proper Posture and Balance

Your sense of balance functions through a dynamic process in which your brain and body assimilate and respond to physical information using your eyes, muscles and nervous system as a means of relating physically to the world.

Proper posture is an integral part of human balance. The way in which you hold up your body actually makes a huge difference in your ability to maintain proper balance. By improving your posture and thus your sense of balance, you improve your physical stability and increase your overall mobility, as well as preventing many injuries and pain in the back, neck and joints.  Overall, proper posture and a healthy sense of balance can mean the difference between feeling the years creeping up on you and maintaining your youthful energy and vigor.

Your sense of balance begins to deteriorate at around age 40. Poor posture and lack of balance is often associated with an increase in falls and injuries, such as wrist and hip fractures, even in younger adults.  To prevent this deterioration, it is important to practice proper posture and perform simple balancing exercises every day.

How can you improve your posture?

  1. Book it. Walk around for five minutes each day with a book balanced on your head.
  2. Sit Up. Make sure that your computer monitor and chair are ergonomically arranged so that your back remains straight and relaxed, with elbows comfortably bent at a 45° angle and feet planted firmly on the ground while you are working on your computer.
  3. Stretch.  Remember to take frequent breaks during which you stretch your back and shoulders by gently bending from side to side with one arm extended over your head.
  4. Step in Line.  When walking, always shift your body weight from heel to toe, using the entire foot to support your weight.  Place one foot in front of the other and direct your body weight in a straight line.

How can you maintain your sense of balance?

  1. Stand on one leg.  Try this at first for 10 seconds, then close your eyes and continue for an additional 5 seconds.  Repeat with the alternate leg.  Practice this exercise at least once daily.  You may need to hold on to a table or wall for the first 3-4 seconds before letting go.  As you become accustomed to doing this exercise every day, your balance will improve drastically and you will be able to hold the position for longer periods.
  2. Balance Beam. Try walking on top of a straight and narrow surface, such as the curb of the sidewalk, a wall or a real balance beam.  This exercise strengthens the coordination between your eyes, muscles and nervous system, and will greatly improve your balance when practiced regularly.
  3. Walk backwards. Walk backwards for a stretch of 10-15 feet using a wall to guide yourself. Try not to turn around and look behind you, and maintain an even distance from the wall while walking.
  4. Get out in Nature. Nature is strategically designed to help humans improve all of our physical and psychological capabilities.  While walking along a dirt road or trail, your sense of balance naturally kicks in to keep you from stumbling over obstacles on the uneven ground, and from bumping into trees and branches in your path.  A weekly nature walk goes a long way toward improving your navigation skills in the physical world, and your sense of balance will be among the first to reap the benefits!

10 Reasons To Train With The Gravity System

Many people have asked me about my preference for the EFI Gravity System over any other exercise equipment when training my clients. The Gravity System is a fun and innovative exercise system that consists of an adjustable glideboard with versatile handles and pulleys.  After years of seeing optimal results and personal satisfaction in clients, both young and old, I know I’ve made the best choice in training equipment.  Here are the top 10 reasons why I made this choice—and stick with it.

  1. Full Body Conditioning: The Gravity system provides total body conditioning using Pilates or resistance training.  This system increases lean muscle mass, decreases body fat, improves circulation and posture, releases endorphins, expedites weight loss, and promotes overall physical strength. The Gravity System builds a rock solid core, while elongating and toning every muscle group in the body.
  2. Awesome Results (aka Satisfied Clients): All of Morphe’s regular clients are seeing consistent, sustainable, awesome results, and each is progressing at his or her own pace.  In the words of one female client, age 54: “I’ve developed strength in areas of my body where I had always been weak.  I look and feel younger now than I did 10 or even 15 years ago!”
  3. Safety: The Gravity System offers low-compression back support, designed to reduce and eliminate chronic back pain and guard against injury.
  4. Natural Body Weight Resistance: The Gravity System uses your own body weight as resistance against the natural and consistent pull of gravity. Using body weight resistance prevents the compression usually associated with the use of free weights or machines.  The glideboard rolls up and down on an adjustable track, and you literally pull or push your own weight at variable inclines.
  5. Versatility: Personal and Athletic Trainers, Physical Therapists and all kinds of fitness professionals use The Gravity System.  It is useful for Pilates, high-performance sports training, physical rehabilitation and body sculpting.  No matter what your fitness goals, this system delivers the results you’re after!
  6. Award-Winning Design: The Gravity system has won three innovation awards within the health club industry, and is designed to support intense total body workouts without the need for additional accessories or machines.  This single, natural, gravity-based total system offers everything you need for full body conditioning.
  7. Easy to Use: During your very first session, you will learn to love and feel comfortable with the Gravity System.  Gravity allows for simple and easy transitions between individual exercises as well as the ability to combine and intensify specific movements, strengthening various muscle groups at the same time.
  8. Easy On The Joints: The Gravity System is designed to strengthen and support joints, and is often used by Physical Therapists to recondition the joints after surgery or injury.
  9. Universal: The Gravity System is packed with features that allow it to be specifically adjusted to individual needs based on size, weight and general physical condition. Because of this, Gravity is safe and easy to use by all kinds of people – no matter how “out of shape” you might be, and is safe for use during and after pregnancy.
  10. It’s Fun: Clients return because the workout is fun and leaves you feeling full of energy.  Many first-timers find it a lot easier than they had expected.  Training sessions are intimate and personal, with a maximum of six participants.  I get to know everybody’s personality and body issues, and target the session to each group individually.  Everybody feels a little bit transformed after each session – mind, body and spirit.

Morphe’s Simple Formula for Success

 

The difference between people who are living their dream life and those who are stuck in a rut waiting for change to just happen is very simple:  successful people set goals – and furthermore, they achieve them!

Why does this work out so well for some of us and not for others?  Do successful people know some kind of secret that helps them fulfill their life goals?  How can the rest of us get in on this act?

The secret lies in a simple formula:

PASSION + DISCIPLINE = RESULTS

Let’s look at the first variable in this equation:  Passion.  What exactly is passion?  We usually think of passion as that powerful, mysterious and magnetic force that makes people fall in love with other people.  But isn’t it also true that this same force can make people fall in love with things, places, projects, dreams and goals as well?

Passion is the force that propels everything in life, and that is why it’s so important to recognize your true Passion and use it as the seed from which to grow your dream life.  If you set goals that respond to your personal Passion and desires, your goals will inspire you to move forward.  If you set goals based on what you think others expect of you, it will become very difficult for you to muster up the Discipline required to achieve the goal.

What exactly is Discipline?  Dictionary.com defines Discipline as: activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training. So how do you remain motivated enough to stick to this activity or regimen long enough to successfully achieve your goal?

What’s really going to keep you disciplined is the Passion, or desire, to achieve your goal, but this Passion needs to be rekindled every so often, in order for you to really feel the excitement, energy and motivation to stick to the Discipline.  The secret to keeping this Passion alive is to constantly remind yourself of why you want to achieve this particular goal.

For example, let’s say your goal is to quit smoking.  It’s not enough to want to do it just because it will make you feel healthier.  You can fuel the Passion for quitting by taking the time to write down all the reasons why you want to quit, and posting them around your home or office as gentle reminders.  You may write:  Smoking makes my breath smell bad; I don’t want to support evil Tobacco companies; I don’t want my clothes to smell bad; Smoking makes my skin more wrinkled, etc.

With this kind of daily motivation, it’s much easier for you to stay focused on the Passion and in turn, to muster up daily Discipline.   Also, one slip doesn’t mean that your entire Passion is gone and that the goal is totally out of your reach.  Simple motivational messages will help you get back on track by reconnecting your thoughts with the original Passion that made you set your goal in the first place.